Community activists from 22 local organizations rallied together on Monday to demand the San Diego City Council reallocate funds from the San Diego Police Department to provide rent relief to low-income residents. Calls to defund police departments have spread nationwide following the murder of George Floyd.
The Community Budget Alliance is comprised of members from 22 community-based organizations who banded together to create the People’s Budget, a proposal to San Diego City Councilmembers to provide $70 million for emergency rental assistance. It calls to divert more than $15 million from SDPD, with the proposal as followed:
- $10.3 million through the reduction of increased police patrol for COVID-19 response;
- $1.8 million from the reduction of 9.0 FTEs and ongoing personnel expenditures from SDPD, to eliminate front counter service at all nine offices;
- $3.5 million from the reduction of police overtime associated with CleanSD.
“If you look at the city budget and how much is allotted for the Police Department and how much is allotted for the people that are really in need you can see the unfairness in that,” Barbara Pinto, a local ACCE member, said in a statement. “We don’t need more policing we need help for the people.”
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SDPD told NBC 7 it has “no comment” regarding the proposal. The San Diego Police Officers Association has not returned a request for comment.
The People’s Budget proposes funds be allocated as followed:
- $70 million for a rental assistance program that will require each landlord receiving relief to provide habitable conditions, and not to increase rent or add late fees for 12 months;
- $2.75 million for tenant counseling and legal services for tenants;
- $750,000 for a Nexus study and rent registry that gathers data on evictions, vacancies and rental prices;
- Mandates $6 million of the Small Business Relief Fund be sent to businesses in the San Diego Promise Zone. Must prioritize low-income, home-based, street and mobile vendor businesses owned by people of color;
- No-cost broadband internet to low-income households;
- Fully fund and staff offices that fight wage theft and protect workers’ safety and health.
Along with the proposal, the Community Budget Alliance held a chalk protest in front of City Hall to encourage Mayor Kevin Faulconer and city councilmembers to approve the People’s Budget. At the rally, activists drew 140 chalk outlines with messages that included “fund housing, not police,” “housing is public safety,” and “no justice, no peace.”
Due to the coronavirus’ tight grip on the economy, many families feared eviction due to unemployment. Gov. Gavin Newsom issued in March a temporary statewide freeze on evictions because of the pandemic, but some say that is not enough to protect renters.
The San Diego City Council will meet Monday at 11 a.m. to review their budget.